Concerto Grosso


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For solo flute, alto sax, bass trombone, marimba, and wind ensemble.

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Concerto Grosso

For solo Flute, Alto Saxophone, Bass Trombone, Marimba, and Concert Band
by James M. Stephenson

duration: ca. 10 minutes

piccolo, flute
2 oboes, englbish horn
3 clarinets, E clarinet, bass clarinet
bassoon, contrabassoon
alto saxophone (1 part), tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
3 Bb trumpets
4 french horns
2 trombones, bass trombone euphonium
percussion (4 players)
Snare Drum, Ocean Drum Wood Block, Bass Drum, Triangle Cymb. a2, Sus. Cymb.
Orch. Bells, Chimes, Vibes
strings: cello + contrabass
solo flute, alto saxophone, bass trombone, and marimba

Program notes:


As is often stated in my notes about my music, one of the joys of composing is the opportunity to be involved in many celebratory occasions, or other significant events individuals or institutions wish to recognize with specially composed music.

Therefore, to be asked by the United States Air Force Band to help celebrate their 75th anniversary in existence is not taken lightly, and I am deeply honored – especially as an American – to be a part of such an extraordinary milestone.

The music:

After discussion with Colonel Larry H. Lang regarding the construction of the piece, we arrived at the possibility of featuring members of the band itself; a manner of paying tribute to the achievements of the band by putting on display some of those who make it as great as it is.
And thus a concerto grosso – for solo quartet with the band – was decided.

The instruments chosen represent a unique set – flute, alto saxophone, bass trombone and marimba – from the families of the concert band.
To me, this presented opportunity to play with the colors each instrument brings to the table. However, the emphasis for me was how I might use them together, or in various pairs/trios, as opposed to giving each one their token 2 minute solo, and then moving on to the next. Therefore, after just a few measures of each instrument displayed at the onset, the main theme is presented by the three wind instruments in unison, with the marimba providing harmonic and rhythmic undertones. Different dialogues ensue as this main theme, and a second theme, are tossed around and examined, before arriving at another lyrical section, where again the players get the opportunity for individual expression. A driving coda follows, before a celebratory conclusion to the work.

It should be noted that the Air Force band had expressly requested reference to their heritage, through general nature of the work, or through specific musical content.
I chose to borrow the first three notes of “Off you go” (from the official USAF song), which are heard at several instances of musical climax in this work. It is not meant to be entirely obvious, but I’m sure the experienced ear will no doubt make the connection.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not personally mention Major David A. Alpar, who recommended me as a composer to be involved in this anniversary celebration. Major Alpar and I go way back to high school, and have collaborated several times musically, and it does not
go unnoticed that he continues to believe in my music. Thank you, Dave!

Jim Stephenson; February 4, 2016 (coincidentally on the occasion of his 47th birthday)

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